Finally after a three week hiatus we get a new SNL episode AND a new featured player, Kate McKinnon—who makes an excellent first showing, but more on that later.
Cold Open: You would think making jokes about Mitt Romney trying to fit in with regular people would get old, but I thought this sketch was great. We see Jason Sudeikis’s Romney going around making guest speaking stops at a million different organizations across the country, from the ASPCA to the United Jewish Appeal, trying to sound relevant, only to have an off-camera Bobby Moynihan yell, “WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU!” He even introduces the show with SNL’s famous, unforgettable opening line: “Hey, New York, let’s start this show!”
Monologue: Sofia comes out looking gorgeous of course, and endearingly makes some jokes about coming to America from Colombia, “Growing up in Colombia it was every girl’s dream to one day grow up and marry Al Bundy.” I loved that she joked about her thick Colombian accent, and she closed the monologue with the perfect line: “Please forgive me if you cannot understand what I say, and I will forgive you for staring at my chest the whole night!”
Just Friends Booty Shorts: It’s the age-old problem: two totally straight dude friends are just hanging out on a bromance man-date, and people keep thinking they’re gay. Now—problem solved! Just wear matching booty shorts that say “Just Friends”! Genius. This commercial brought to you by Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg’s butts.
Bein’ Quirky with Zooey Deschanel: The greatness of Abby Elliott’s Zooey Deschanel impression pales in comparison to Kristen Wiig’s flawless Drew Barrymore impression as she pops in as a guest on the show. As usual, Taran Killam as Michael Cera steals the show (dying Easter eggs! So cute!), but having Sofia Vergara on as fashionista quirky girl Fran Drescher was some excellent sketch casting.
Almost Pizza: A new commercial parody advertising something that looks like pizza, but certainly doesn’t smell, feel, (grow?) like pizza. Mostly, I couldn’t stop laughing at Bill Hader’s horrified reactions and questions as Kristen explains to him all of the pizza’s “special” qualities.
News Team Promo: The premise is similar to the one earlier this season with Channing Tatum—a news team trying to film a quick promo. This time Fred Armisen’s character is endlessly perplexed by the simple instruction to look at the camera. The easy punchline gets old pretty quickly.
Gilly in Sex Ed: Her name is Gilly and she’s at it again, despite the fact I’m pretty sure Kristen has stated in interviews before that she was officially retiring Gilly. Sofia acts as teacher while Gilly harasses her fellow classmates in this special sex ed episode. I feel like the time they spent in the flash forward to Gilly faking her own death would have been better spent on another inappropriate prank, but that may just be me.
One Direction: I expected America’s latest British invasion to have a really strong showing in their performances, but they got off to a bit of a rough start. In their first song, “What Makes You Beautiful,” all the solos were pretty shaky and rough—Zayn Malik was the only one that really stood out to me. Luckily, they pulled it together each time they hit the chorus. Their second song, “One Thing,” was a million times better all around—solos, energy, everything. Maybe they got some nerves worked out after the first performance (or some coaching from Manuel Ortiz).
Weekend Update: Bobby’s Drunk Uncle character stops by with some Easter-themed complaints. My favorite line was when he digressed to his usual complaint about young people, saying, “All these kids care about is ‘Is this wi-fi organic? Can I get some raw almonds on my yoga class?'” And of course the topical, “Know what I call The Hunger Games? Trying to raise six kids on an exterminator’s salary.” I didn’t feel like it was the Drunk Uncle’s strongest showing, but it definitely still had some funny moments. My favorite of Seth Meyers’s jokes was about the Guinness-world-record holder for oldest working clown, “working to fulfill his dream of dying in front of children.”
The Manuel Ortiz Show: Naturally with Sofia on the show, this hilarious Spanish talk show sketch made an appearance. Despite the fact that she’s the only one of actual Latin blood, I have to say she is not so great at the intro dance; but I forgive her. They’ve done this sketch a million times, but I have to say, I love it every time. This time, Sofia’s husband (Bill) is cheating on her with her incarcerated mother (Kristen) via Skype. Bill’s outrageous expressions steal the scene, and then One Direction makes a great surprise appearance as Sofia and Bill’s children.
Lil Poundcake: Yup, the HPV prevention doll commercial parody makes ANOTHER appearance. Don’t get me wrong, the commercial’s hilarious. But what is this, I think maybe the third time this has aired?
Watch What Happens Live: Taran pulls off yet another amazing impression from what I can only assume is an endlessly large and versatile arsenal of impressions that has barely even been tapped yet—can I just mention again how this man is the future of SNL? This sketch is 100% accurate, and makes me realize there’s an intense similarity between Andy Cohen and Paul Lynde’s mannerisms. The writers nail the parody and Taran nails the impression—definitely one of the best sketches of the night.
Pantene Commercial: New featured player Kate McKinnon gets a starring spot in a sketch on her very first show—I think it’s safe to say she is a comedic force to be reckoned with. Kate plays Penelope Cruz and Sofia plays a caricature of herself as the two shoot a Pantene commercial while sultrily purring various hair-related words, until it becomes quickly apparent that Penelope’s scripted words are vastly more difficult to say than Sofia’s. I am in awe of Kate’s perfect Penelope impression, and I’m excited for her that she totally nailed her first episode!
Hunger Games Reporter: With Hunger Games fever sweeping the nation, this sketch could not have been more perfectly timed (or executed). As a Hunger Games fan, I ate. this. UP. Sofia plays an over-enthused reporter yanking unsuspecting Hunger Games tributes (players) out from hiding so she can interview them. Add in Bill as a perfect Caesar Flickerman, with a dash of commercial product placement, and one Hunger Games Puppy Bowl promo for another perfect, hysterical parody.
Overall: This was a great episode, especially for a first time host. I’m surprised 3 of the strongest sketches got saved for last; but then again, it really was a very good episode all around.
MVP: Kate McKinnon! She came out swinging in her first ever SNL episode with 2 great impressions, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of her in the future.
One to Watch: This is a tough one. Since I loved the movie and am in the midst of reading the books myself, I have to give it to Hunger Games Reporter. However, if you’re one of the few Americans out there who isn’t a Hunger Games fan, you may want to check out Watch What Happens Live instead.
Watch new episodes of Saturday Night Live on Saturdays on NBC at 11:30/10:30c. Next week’s episode on April 14 is a new episode with host Josh Brolin and musical guest Gotye.
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